Raised Beds

Raised Beds

Cattle Panels

Cattle Panels

Raccoon Prevention Fence

Raccoon Prevention Fence

Blackberries and Mint

Blackberries and Mint

Composting Bins

Composting Bins

Garlic Drying

Garlic Drying

Heirloom Butter Beans, Fresh off the Vine

Heirloom Butter Beans, Fresh off the Vine

Shauna and Sunflower

Shauna and Sunflower

Our friends Shauna and Jim Struby live in the heart of Oklahoma City.
A journalist, Shauna has been writing about the environment for more than 20 years.
She remembers, as a child, living in Nigeria with her missionary parents,
being carried out at 2 a.m. to see a lunar eclipse, hearing her parents explain
this special, wondrous event. She remembers every summer hiking and camping in New Mexico.
This early-grounding in the natural world has been gift
that she returns now,
in her writing,
in her leadership with Sustainable OKC, Transition Town OKC and Oklahoma Sustainability Network,
and in her own person life.
Vacationing still in New Mexico and enjoying the natural beauty there and anywhere she goes,
she and her husband Jim also have turned their small back yard into a vegetable garden.
They know deeply the value to the planet of eating local food, growing some of your own food
(less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.)
And they’re doing it the permaculture way, the natural way, without poisons—
even though they are plagued by grasshoppers and other chompers,
and, most dramatically, by racoons. Not far from a large creek, Shauna says their backyard
is a “raccoon highway.”
So, rather than poisoning the raccoons (and the soil and atmosphere,)
they do their best to protect the garden by surrounding it with bird netting.
It gives this part of their .16-acre lot a unique look. Shauna calls their garden
“quirky, but purposeful.” Every inch is well-considered;
every challenge met with a solution based on creating a healthy environment for all.
So, in one corner, there is a composting process, with cardboard, kitchen scraps, leaves
and horse manure, which is hauled in, dumped in their front yard
and transferred to the back with wheelbarrows.
Along the fence are blackberries and mint. A new asparagus bed
is being developed along another fence. A 300-gallon rain tank
collects water for the vegetable garden, so that they have to use only minimal city water.
A sitting area in the middle of the backyard is surrounded by raised beds on either side.
Eight 4×4-foot raised beds are covered with cattle panels, bent high enough
to grow even Arrowroot and Okra. Panels are covered with shade cloth to protect it
from Oklahoma’s increasingly intense sunlight. Happily, they’ve also discovered
that hail pops right off the shade cloth. The cattle panels are handy
for trellising vines like tomatoes and pole beans.
They harvest vegetables much of the year. You can see Shauna’s beautiful photographs
of the bounty, as well as her blogs about her garden here: ThinkLady.
Also, look there for her recent cover article on Global Warming published
in the Oklahoma Gazette. Or find it here.
I am grateful for and inspired by the Strubys’ dedication and integrity.
They not only communicate and educate about climate change and sustainability,
they live it—despite limited space in a raccoon thoroughfare!
For them, caring for the planet
is among the highest of priorities.
No excuses here—not even that one heard so often
about “what the neighbors will say.”
Thank you Shauna and Jim!